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Edward Jack Gillingham

Served with Southend Borough Constabulary and died on Oct 14, 1940.

Police War Reserve Constable Edward Gillingham was the son of Emily Florence Hill (formerly Gillingham), of 3 Mill Hill Cottages, Sutton Road, Southend-on-Sea, and husband of Cecilia Louise Gillingham of 5 The Grove, Southchurch, Southend-on-Sea.

He was killed along with his wife, the daughter of Mrs. Thomas Burrows, of 2 Barkestone Lane, Bottisford, Nottinghamshire, as a result of enemy action on Monday, 14th October 1940 while serving as a Police war reservist. The week's Southend Standard (dated Thursday 18th October) reported the incident as follows;

"Intercepted by a British fighter as it was crossing over a Thames Estuary town on Monday, a single German raider released two heavy bombs as the pursuer opened machine gun fire. One fell at the rear of houses in one road killing two people who were out in their garden at the time and causing injuries to other residents, while a second blew a large crater in another road without causing any casualties. Nothing had been heard of the raider approaching and it was only visible for a few seconds.

The last image that watchers had was of the Spitfire closing in as both planes disappeared into the clouds. The whistle of the falling bombs was heard and then came two loud reports. The first bomb fell in a road and the backs of a number of houses were badly damaged, whilst the corner of the next house was blown off. Mr. Edward Jack Gillingham (38) and his wife, Mrs. Louisa Gillingham (43) were in their garden at the time when the explosion occurred a few feet from them and were killed.

Mr. Gillingham was a war reserve constable and he was walking the garden with his wife before going on duty when they met their death. Their daughter, Hilda Gillingham, was injured and sent to hospital with Mrs. N. Prime, who resided a short distance away and was badly cut buy glass. On Wednesday Miss Gillingham underwent an operation and afterwards her condition was said to be satisfactory. Mrs. Prime's condition showed improvement.

Among the row of houses windows and frames were blown in and in some places the walls also. The casualties treated at a First Aid Post were mostly residents of the houses, who were cut by flying glass, and only two had to be sent to hospital for further attention. The other three persons had already been sent directly to hospital. One of them told our representative 'I did not hear the plane and the first thing I knew was a terrific bang that knocked me to the floor and then the room was filled with glass from the windows. I could hear screams and ran out to find some of my neighbours in their gardens bleeding from cuts'."

The Gillinghams' funeral took place on Saturday, 19th October 1940 at Sutton Road Cemetery, with the Archdeacon of Southend, Venerable E. M. Gowing, officiating. Colleagues from the Southend force marched with the cortege to the cemetery and formed a guard of honour at the graveside.

Edward Gillingham was buried in grave 8244. He is also commemorated on the Civilian War Dead Register in Westminster Abbey.

Police Constable (Police War Reserve).

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